In 2003, I entered the workforce. Fresh out of a highly ranked engineering program, and with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in hand, I moved halfway across the country to begin my engineering career.
My first day on the job, I quickly noticed that I was one of only two female engineers in the engineering department (we both started the same month), but I didn’t think much of it. My schooling had seemed entirely gender-neutral. My interests in math and science had been encouraged from a young age, and I had not really thought about the fact that men significantly outnumbered women in all my college engineering classes.
I have always enjoyed baking and sharing my baking with others. Someone having a bad day? Bring them some cookies. Someone having a celebration? Bake a cake. My favorite thing to make was anything involving chocolate. Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, mint chocolate chip cheesecake, you name it. My mouth is watering just thinking about making one of these.
So there I was, in my first weeks in my first full-time engineering position, and I brought in some homemade brownies to share at work. The brownies were soft and fudgy, with swirls of caramel that caused them to practically melt in your mouth.
One of the senior engineers in the department tasted one of my brownies, and commented, “This is why we need women in the department.” Yet, it wasn’t at all unusual for the men to bring in baked goods (in fact we took turns bringing in a treat once a week), and the only comment would be a thank-you.